Features

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Hands On – Better than eyes can see

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Two months of collective restraint from the world’s most powerful smartphone companies have led up to this day in Barcelona. If this were Hollywood, today would be the Oscars, maybe even more exciting. Today, tightly guarded secrets finally see the light of day, leaks that couldn’t wait to be revealed are confirmed, and expectations that have kept the tech industry at a standstill are either quenched or met with utter disappointment.

In a span of just two years, Korean smartphone giant Samsung has been on the receiving end of both criticism and praise. Its 2014 smartphone the Galaxy S5, with its plasticky build and faux leather stylings was a big miss while its 2015 attempt the glass and metal Galaxy S6 was for the most part, everything its demanding user base clamoured for.

Today as they unveil their latest Pièce De Résistance or as the Spanish say the Plato Fuerte, Samsung hopes for a repeat of last year’s performance. 

I’ve seen and held the new Galaxy S7 and its curvier big brother the Galaxy S7 Edge – both are great phones, not blow your mind phones, but phones that deliver a certain level of contentment and satisfaction.

Call it managing expectations. For sure, a smartphone on the bleeding edge is what we tech journalists seek out. But at its core, if you strip away the pomp and hyperbole of a smartphone launch, see beyond the marketing speak, and allow enough time for the hype to die down, you’ll find that what everybody really wants is a smartphone they can be content with.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of those phones.

COMEBACK

Two key themes mark the design of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (from hereon out collectively referred to as the S7 unless otherwise stated) – giving back what was surreptitiously taken away, and improving on what has already been done right.

Like the S5 of two years past, the S7 has an IP68 rating that guarantees survival under fresh or pool water up to depths of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. The only orifices on the phone are a micro USB charging port and headphone jack, both remain exposed but protected thanks to a new cap-less design.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The only removable part is its SIM card tray, lined with rubber stoppers to keep water out. The hybrid tray has two slots, one for a nano SIM, and the other for a micro SD (or a second nano SIM) card of up to 200GB in case the phone’s internal storage is not enough (32GB or 64GB depending on your region). The latter should appease critics who decried the absence of the expandable memory on the S6, and gives Samsung a leg up on Apple whose never made external cards an option on the iPhone. 

One feature not making a comeback is user replaceable batteries. Instead Samsung is giving the S7 and S7 Edge batteries with larger capacities. Up to 3000 mAh on the S7 and 3600 mAh on the S7 Edge. Both phones also support fast wired and wireless charging and take 95 minutes and 115 minutes (wired) and 130 and 150 minutes (wireless) respectively to charge from 0 to 100%.

DESIGN

If you’ve seen the S6 then the S7 won’t look dramatically different. The S7 is still mostly made up of glass and metal but now has slightly more rounded corners, a slightly more squarish home button, and a display that’s even more flushed against its sides.

samsung-galaxy-s7-curves

Both the S7 and S7 Edge are curvier than last years models thanks to new 3D glass.

The biggest design change can be seen and felt once you turn the phone around. The back of the of S7 now curves outward on both ends made from what Samsung calls 3D glass. It’s a simple but practical design change that’s made the phone less boxy, more ergonomic, and one that feels thinner than it actually is.

CAMERA

Samsung also improved the highly regarded camera of the S6.

While its shaved down the unsightly camera bump, everything else is bigger and better, including a faster f/1.7 lens and larger 1.4um pixel size.

samsung-galaxy-s7-camera

On paper the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have one of the best cameras seen on a smartphone ever.

The company is touting a new feature called dual pixel technology, something seen on high end professional cameras from Canon but never on a smartphone. The promise is even better low light performance and even faster focus speeds, up to 4x faster than its predecessor in low light.

Samsung is also making a bold move this year, cutting down on megapixels from 16 on the S6 to only 12 on the S7. In lieu of more megapixels you get larger pixels, a tradeoff that theoretically should deliver better looking photos across lighting conditions.

Double pressing on the home button still launches the camera app, and launch time is as fast as ever. From within the camera app Samsung has added a new Motion Panorama mode and made improvements to its Hyperlapse feature bringing down file sizes significantly so that it can be shared easily on the web.

Similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 6S, the S7’s selfie camera gets fill flash, not an actual front facing flash, but a sudden burst of light from your smartphone display.

POWER

Depending on where you are in the world the S7 will be powered by different processors, either an octa-core processor from Samsung (Exynos 8890) or a quad-core processor from Snapdragon (Snapdragon 820), both are promised to be up to 58% faster than last year’s models.

Memory-wise, 4GB of RAM is standard across the board.

Gamers will enjoy a new feature called Game Tools that allow you to take screenshots, record game play, turn off notifications while in game, and the ability switch to a power saving mode that reduces performance but saves on battery life. The phone also supports Vulcan API so game developers can tap into even more power saving and performance driving features in tandem with the phone.

S7 EDGE

Last year Samsung introduced two innovative new smartphones with curved screens, the 5.1-inch S6 Edge and 5.7 inch S7 Edge Plus. Both models have been consolidated into one product this year the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. The change might sound confusing at first but it is a smart move that clearly defines Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone offerings which in 2016 are the Galaxy S7 (5.1 inches) Galaxy S7 Edge (5.5 inches) and Galaxy Note 5 (5.7 inches with a bundled stylus), none of which compete with each other in both feature set and screen size. 

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Edge functionality on the S7 Edge has been expanded – the edge display is now two columns wide. The extra screen real estate means more space for 3rd party widgets. On top of “People Edge” (contact shortcuts) and “Apps Edge” (app shortcuts) Samsung is adding a third edge screen called “Task Edge” which allows you to create shortcuts to specific tasks within apps. For example you create a shortcut to launch the selfie camera, or compose a new SMS message. For now its Samsung apps only but the company is opening up Task Edge to third party developers so soon you should also be able to also create shortcuts for posting photos to Instagram and composing Tweets.

AVAILABILITY

It’s only been a few hours since the launch of the S7, not enough time to crown it the next best thing. In a week or so after this hype has died down, I should be able to assess how I truly feel about the device and determine whether or not it is a phone that delivers contentment. But by then the phone could already be in your hands.

In an effort to be the first flagship smartphone in stores this 2016, Samsung is pushing for an aggressive worldwide release. Both phones will be available in the United States on March 11th. The Philippine release is scheduled for March 19th, with gold and black 32GB variants of the S7 and S7 Edge retailing for Php 34990 and Php 39990 respectively.

[irp posts=”2481" name=”Singapore is getting a taste of Samsung’s pink-gold Galaxy S7 phones”]

Features

Stay Cozy: 5 best places to visit during winter

Channel your inner Queen Elsa or Jack Frost!

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Photo by Jason Briscoe

Winter is here. From December to March, the Northern Hemisphere faces the coldest time of the year. For some people, winter is hellish. It’s brutally cold, bulky outfits make it hard to move; landscapes feel robbed of colors, and the sun barely shows itself.

However, some people enjoy the freezing season — especially those who live in tropical countries wanting to experience snow at least once in their lifetime. It’s also a time where people get closer and warmer. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy winter, here are the top places to go.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is Finland’s capital. Many people visit the country to embark on a Nordic tour and see the northern lights. Little do they know, there’s a chance to see the famed northern lights in the country’s capital, especially in February and March from 9 PM until 1 AM.

Aside from spending long nights outdoors, Helsinki is a beautiful place to go sightseeing during winter. Make sure to visit Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki Museum, Helsinki Central Library and walk around Sibelius Park and Esplanade Park. If you’re in for some coffee, visit Fazer Café and Café Regatta.

Don’t forget to visit a sauna — one of the top things to do in the city — to get a real feel of Helsinki. Drop by the Allas Sea Pool.

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel

Radisson Blu Plaza is a historical hotel near Helsinki Central Station with a Finnish-designed interior making you feel like you’re in a set from an early 1900’s movie! Book here.


Quebec, Canada

People flock to Quebec to visit Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Who wouldn’t want to? Old Quebec is a remnant of history; a piece of life from centuries ago, immortalized through design and architecture. However, Quebec has its charms that make people explore more of its secrets and wonders.

When in town, make sure to walk along Terrasse Dufferin and bask in a spectacular view of Saint-Lawrence river. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also visit Plaines d’Abraham and do some skiing and skating. Don’t forget to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate from La Maison Smith.

Lastly, Quebec has events you shouldn’t miss if you’re in town for winter. There’s a German Christmas Market in December and Carnaval de Québec in February.

Where to stay: L’appartement GLOBETROTTER

L’appartement is a spacious and bright BnB with a private roof terrace, located in Saint-Roch district. Stay here.


Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo is popular as it is one of the snowiest cities in the world. It’s also a vibrant city — even in winter — as it presents a lot of activities for every tourist. Go ahead and embrace your inner child: play in the snow, adme ice sculptures, and ride snowmobiles, especially during the Sapporo Snow Festival.

If you love beer, you probably know Sapporo as a beer brand — another reason to visit the city. Sapporo has been brewing beers since the late 1800s and people come to the Sapporo Beer Museum for beer tasting. Beer fan or not, Sapporo in winter is a beautiful place to visit in groups. Who’s in for long nights drinking beer with your friends and/or with fellow travelers?

Don’t forget to book an onsen for a warm and relaxed trip!

Where to stay: Sapporo Station BnB

Sapporo Station BnB is a charming, tatami-styled, budget-friendly BnB located next to a subway station. Stay here.


Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is a wonderful destination during winter. There are a lot of things to do both indoors and outdoors that it’s impossible not to love this city even in cold.

For those willing to brave the cold, stroll around Gyeongbokgung Palace, ice skate at Seoul Plaza and Yeoui Ice Park, eat winter street food like tteokbokki (rice cakes with spicy red chili paste), hotteok (Korean pancakes with nuts and honey), and gyeran bbang (steamed bread with egg), and of course, experience snow everywhere!

For indoor dwellers, visit quirky and themed cafés or warm up with some hot cup of tea from teahouses in Insadong.

Where to stay: Hanok Guesthouse Mon Oncle a Seoul

A Hanok is a traditional Korean house popular among tourists. Hanok Guesthouse Mon Oncle a Seoul is well-loved by travelers due to its great location and remarkable sunset views. Book here.


New York City, United States of America

Popular all-year-round, New York unravels a different personality and charm during winter. It’s a winter wonderland for most people, hosting larger-than-life celebrations and making everything big and loud.

When you’re in the city for Christmas, make sure to rock on some coats and scarves while ice-skating with a date or someone special in Rockefeller Center or at Wollman Rink. Take a stroll along Hudson’s Warren Street and through Central Park.

Other than that, New York hosts a lot of tradition and events during winter like the New Year’s Eve ball drop, Lunar New Year parade, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, New York Fashion Week, and NYC Broadway Week.

Where to stay: Walker Hotels Tribeca

Walker Hotels Tribeca is an artistic and aesthetically-pleasing hotel situated at a great location that will help you get anywhere around New York. Book here.


Stay Cozy is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we feature travel destinations with guides on things to do, sights to see and a highlight on the places we can book in advance to show that technology makes planning your trips easier.

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Enterprise

Samsung: ‘We’re more secure than any other brand’

Your data is safe

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The digital age ushered an era where cybersecurity issues pose a threat to our personal safety and big risks in businesses and the economy. As if the world isn’t cruel, violent, and scary enough, we’re all forced to stay on our toes and double up our guard.

Several data breaches and news about tech companies spying on us has been alarming to say the least. “Is our data still safe?” is the common question among concerned individuals.

Recently, the CxO Innovation Summit 2019 — a data and security conference held by VST-ECS Philippines — was mounted in Boracay. GadgetMatch had an exclusive interview with executives from Samsung Global and Samsung Philippines.

Samsung’s series of unfortunate events

In a press conference, Samsung discussed its attempts to protect its consumers’ data. Samsung recently faced a series of unfortunate mishaps concerning security and privacy, causing concerns among its loyal customers.

Samsung Mobile B2B Asia’s Corporate VP and Chief Revenue Officer David Kim stated how Samsung isn’t the only one that suffered from malicious attacks. He reiterated how the company uses Knox as a security measure along with its authentication factor. Kim explained, “You can only control the hardware, software, and who access the phones.”

The executive added, “There are also Wi-Fi and networks. If someone can sneak in your network, they can sneak in your email.”

Samsung believes they’re more secure than any other brand. Kim confidently claimed to GadgetMatch, “We don’t have a perfect security rating, but we are well received. That’s why the White House is comfortable with us.”

Amidst the issues surrounding the company, Samsung also took pride in how they’re one of the few companies that organically make their hardware components and develop their software.

Knox makes the difference

Samsung’s Product Manager Anton Andres supported the claims, stating how Samsung’s Knox sets them apart. “The main difference is the Knox platform. It has two components: Platform security and the solutions we offer in the market like Knox Manage and Knox Configure.”

The young executive demonstrated, “Knox Platform is embedded on a smartphone. At first, it was just a security platform that automatically encrypts and decrypts information every time you boot up the device.”

Andres further explained how the Knox Platform has multi-layers of security. “First is the hardware chip. If a device — like a Samsung Galaxy S8 — was compromised and reset, Knox automatically blows the fuse.”

“If you have corporate or personal info, your data is automatically wiped, preventing any data leakage and security risks.”

Be careful of what you download

Similar to Huawei’s warnings, Andres warned about downloading third-party apps and keyboards. Though it may customize your keyboard to your liking, it can compromise your security. Andres believes the challenge is the keyboard loggers, which sends your credentials to third-party servers every time you put your credentials.

“If you access your mobile banking credentials on a third-party keyboard, they can phish your information,” Andres said. “With Samsung Knox, we identify specific applications and URLs. Once identified, Knox automatically hides your information to prevent potential threats.”

Currently, Samsung is constantly updating the Knox Platform and its security solutions. Recently, the Samsung Galaxy A50s highlighted Knox. The Korean company is also looking for more ways to make Knox easily understandable for everyday consumers. Presently, the Knox Platform is limited to Samsung devices while Knox Solutions are compatible with Android, Windows, and iOS.

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Enterprise

Huawei: ‘We do not touch data’

The Chinese company denies espionage allegations

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Security and privacy have been a major issue in this era. Following the tech controversies relating to espionage, banning, and data breaches, people can’t help but wonder if their data is still safe.

In a conference held by VST-ECS Philippines in Boracay Island, CxO Innovation Summit 2019 was mounted to tackle data and security. GadgetMatch had an exclusive interview with Huawei, discussing how the Chinese company handles their consumers’ data and what they are doing to protect it.

The Government should protect your data

GadgetMatch first met with Patrick Low, Principal Architect for CTO Office of Huawei Enterprise Business Group. Low discussed how consumers’ data are being acquired everywhere. For instance, a surveillance camera in a public or private space can provide facial recognition — another form of identifiable data.

Low stated how our data do not belong to us, not even him — an executive from the Chinese company. Expounding, he says the moment we sign up on websites and different platforms, we trade our data in exchange for using their services. Low also demonstrated how Blockchain gives the user their data back, however, it isn’t adapted widely in the Philippines yet.

The Huawei executive further explained that despite the acquisition of our data, sensitive information is protected through policies formed by the government. Even so, the Principal Architect further pressed “Having a policy or rules is just a start, at the end of the day we need to enforce it.” Low cited how Singapore and Australia’s Data Protection Acts allow authorities to enforce through informing — which must be followed by developing countries.

“We do not touch data”

When asked regarding the spying accusations thrown at the company, Low simply stated “We do not touch data. That’s a policy from top-down.”

“Huawei has not been caught or found out in any way to be violating personal rights. Because of the media and diplomatic situations, Huawei is always guilty. It’s difficult for Huawei to handle.” Low added.

The executive then demonstrated Huawei’s strategy to protect data, such as creating servers and encrypting it. Low added that only applications have the requirement to hold user data. According to Low, any application — WhatsApp for instance — analyzes and sends your data back to where the app’s server is located. In this case, it’s being sent in the United States.

“We do not touch data. That’s a policy from top-down.”

Low then warned about the applications you are downloading through APKs and even in Google Play Store. Low advised to always check your sources, the app’s server location, and read the terms and conditions we skip regularly.

Moving forward, Huawei takes cybersecurity very seriously. Low stated, “If we are caught doing anything wrong without the user’s consent, we’re going to face a lot of problems. If something wrong happens, the company will suffer deeply.”

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